Scripting – It’s Not Just for Developers!
Recently, Matt sent me this article on IT Pros are not feeling the love from Microsoft and asked for my feedback. Now I need to qualify this for those who don’t know me that (1) I used to work in IT doing system and database administration and desktop support and (2) I’m married to an awesome IT guy who helps keep me up on IT technology that I don’t necessarily pay close attention to.
Fears of the Cloud
While there’s the cloud fear, IT pros need to understand that while we developers can write for the cloud, we don’t always necessarily understand the support and setup issues from an infrastructure point of view. So you IT pros shouldn’t feel threatened by these technologies – you need to understand that IT isn’t getting eliminated by these. But you also need to understand the cloud so that you can support your developers who are writing for it. And if the recent BPOS outages and the Amazon cloud outage are signs of anything, clouds can be unstable and you IT pros need to be able to help support your companies when their clouds fail and need to recover to something else. (And of course, there are private clouds… so don’t think you’ll get pushed out with cloud computing.)
Ms. Shinder mentions that most people are resistant change, which is true. However, if you’re working in technology and resistant to change, then you’re in the wrong industry. Technology is constantly changing, and if you want to go forward in your career, you need to keep up with it. Falling behind leaves you to being that legacy support person. While you hang on to old technologies, they inevitably will be phased out and then you’ll be out of a job and find it hard to get into something new because you resisted change in an ever-changing field.
Code Monkey Like You?
Then there’s the case of IT pros evolving into developers. How many people really enjoy having to visit each machine in their care for updates? Wouldn’t it be easier if you could push out machine image updates automatically? Sure, you could setup a Ghost session and update a lab in downtime via multicast (ah the memories), but you could also probably script the process and not have to be there to click the “Yes” / “No” prompts that may come up. Silent installers don’t typically just work automatically – you have to run an executable at a command line with typically a /s or some other switch. If you’re familiar with working at a command prompt for tasks like that, then PowerShell isn’t as complicated or as scary as you think.
IT pros who are smart about staying ahead of the curve understand the importance of automating processes and making management easier. Be it with shell scripts in a Unix shell, VBScripts, WScripts, JScripts, batch scripts… it’s not as if scripting is new to IT work. I know some IT pros of yore who used Perl scripts to help with server management. If you were an IT pro then, I could understand complaining about scripting – while the logic (thinking about it in English) to solving a problem was simple, the syntax was pretty screwy. At least PowerShell comes a bit closer to being easier to understand – Start-Service does just what it says it does. There may be other parameters after a command, but you know what… the PowerShell help system is awesome enough to help you figure this out. You don’t have to dig through man pages or try to find online documentation. You have Get-Help Command –examples, and there are useful examples with descriptions to help you on your way.
PowerShell is easy to navigate and easy to learn. It doesn’t take a lot of effort if you already have a scripting background. And if you don’t have a scripting background… as long as you can think the problem out in English, there’re guides out there who can help you through this. Matt and I have written a book that is good for just that – guiding the average IT pro with minimal to no scripting background through the craziness known as PowerShell. Give our book a chance to change that ‘PowerHell’ experience to ‘PowerFull’.